The Six Lessons Vertigo Taught Me

1. Appreciate the Small Things

From December through April, walking around outside went from impossible to challenging to doable with care. Being able to move my gaze around the yard while I am walking Emerson is a new treat.

2. Savor the Weird Superpowers

A side affect of the vertigo is that my eyes are still sensitive to movement and colors. It makes shopping very hard. But I notice every little change in the yard. I can spot a squirrel in a tree better than the dogs.

3. Do Less, Notice More

Each day, I have a to-do list. It’s not nearly as intense as it used to be. Many days, items carry over to the next day. I am actively doing less, but noticing so much more. My mind has time to play. To watch spring unfolding. New story ideas are germinating.


4. Not Much is Life or Death, Except Life or Death

Every book launch felt like life or death to me. I would sacrifice sleep, work 14-hour days for months on end, put off socializing, ignore my body, and neglect my mind–all in pursuit of that elusive success in sales. In my mind, effort would equate to success. I put so much stress on myself that my body was literally experiencing life or death stakes over something that was so not that.


5. Make Time for What Matters Now

Every day, I take the the goldens, Rora and Reagan, out for twenty-five minutes of play time. I also take Emerson out for ten minutes of explorer time. He hates walking, but if I let him lead me around the yard, he gets to pretend he’s Indiana Jones.

6. Balance is Elusive and Requires Work

If I stop doing my therapy exercises, my balance will erode. I have to make time every day to do my exercises and to push myself a little without pushing too hard. I am constantly running into new walls and learning when to back off and when to keep nudging.

Have you found an illness or a bad experience gave you unexpected insight or lessons you needed?

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17 Responses to The Six Lessons Vertigo Taught Me

  1. These are all great lessons, Kourtney. Living with a chronic disease, I try to practice these as well. I’m glad you’re feeling better! xo

    • Kourtney says:

      Thanks, Jill. It’s really hard to have something ongoing. But it does teach us stuff. Hope you are doing well too!

  2. #4 and 5. I feel those. I’m so glad things are on the upswing for you and that you’re able to look at it from a different perspective now.

    • Kourtney says:

      Thanks. I think slowing down on developmental edits was the best thing I could do for me and the book. I wrote better when I had 10 weeks instead of 6 weeks. And I didn’t feel as burnt out when week ten hit. I used to put my life off until later all in the name of the book. Now, I’m realizing that wasn’t good for the book or for me. Hugs.

  3. Lori says:

    Glad you are gradually feeling better and that you’re coming into peace with yourself and your surroundings. Infertility was the big life changer for me. Taught me many lessons about myself that I needed to learn. My vertigo issues still come and go, but never as bad as the first bout. Right now I’m dealing with Plantar Fasciitis. It’s such a bear to cure. The lesson this new ailment is teaching me is that the Universe is bringing me just what I need if I put out my request and remain patient.

    • Kourtney says:

      Thanks, Lori. That’s such a hard thing to experience. I am glad you can look back and see it this way. I hear that about vertigo. Waiting for the initial episode to stop completely. Ugh. That’s so painful. Such a great lesson. Hugs.

  4. I’m glad you have been able to find gifts within the challenge. It’s not always easy. Sometimes I think that “type A” people (I count myself among them!) need a huge wake-up call to get us to slow down. For me, it’s been a gradual process over the last 20 years. More recently, the sudden onset of anxiety and panic attacks forced me to completely re-evaluate who I am.

    Good luck with your continued improvement–and especially with the sparks of new writing ideas!

    • Kourtney says:

      It’s taken me a while to see them. Yes, being Type A, I can ignore lots of signals until something catastrophic happens. I’m so sorry to hear that. Anxiety is awful, especially when you are all keyed up and can’t talk yourself down. I hope you are working your way through it and getting help with it. I think the hardest thing is admitting there is a problem and that we can’t handle it on our own. But when we let people help, we can improve. Hugs.

      Thanks. I’m in line edits for TGWSG, so I jot them down and hope to get to them in several months. 😉

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    “Do less, Notice more.”—Advice we’d all do well heeding. Glad things are starting to turn the corner for you.

    • Kourtney says:

      Seriously. I used to ride myself so hard all the time. And I realized it was making me a) sick and b) miserable. This year I may be slower, but I’m happier. 🙂

  6. Glad to see you making lemonade out of lemons! Vertigo sounds awful, but your strength and will are overcoming the challenge. Hugs!

    • Kourtney says:

      Trying to see the good in what’s happened and take something away from it. It’s really scary because you cannot trust your own perception and you can’t override it. Your brain swears you’re on a ship during rough seas and the kitchen counter is moving, so you just hang out and look insane to your family. Aw thank you. I’m learning to work around a defective nerve and hoping eventually it heals. Until then, I just pace myself and push when I can and pull back when I must. Hugs.

  7. Mayumi-H says:

    So glad to hear that you are doing better, Kourtney!

    Your advice here is universal. I was going to say that #4 is especially significant for writers, but, honestly, every single one of them is important. We get one life; spending it stressed or being unhappy is so not worth the energy that takes away from us, and from what we could be doing to be healthier and happier.

    It’s exciting to hear that new ideas are making their way to you, too!

    I hope your journey continues to get better!

    • Kourtney says:

      Thanks, Mayumi. It’s weird how illness slows us down and gives us perspective. It’s so true and yet we so easily lose sight of it in the moment. I’ve been jotting them down for future use. 😉 Hugs.

  8. I’m sorry you had to go through the illness to get the lessons Kourtney, but they are great lessons to take from it. I’m glad things are improving and sending you positive thoughts for the continuing journey.

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